Spicy Chicken Enchilada Macaroni and Cheese

All the spicy flavors of chicken enchiladas mixed into a comforting macaroni and cheese casserole. Save this recipe for a cold rainy day when the only thing on the agenda is a Netflix marathon!

Chicken Enchilada Macaroni and Cheese

Thank you Sargento® for sponsoring this post today. My kiddos thank you too because this macaroni and cheese is mmmm mmmm good! If you love to cook, and want to test your Food Network Chopped skills, then I encourage you to participate in the Chopped at Home Challenge. Enter your recipe and you could win $5,000 and a trip to New York City to compete in a televised Chopped cooking challenge for a $10,000 grand prize. Now THAT would be AWESOME!! Read more about it here.


If there’s one thing I’m absolutely sure of it’s this…one can’t have too many macaroni and cheese recipes. It’s impossible. I’ve been to restaurants that have entire menus dedicated to macaroni and cheese. Seriously. Basically, ANY favorite food or recipe can be recreated into a spectacular macaroni and cheese recipe.

MY OTHER RECIPES

A couple weeks ago I was asked to create a recipe using Sargento® 4 Cheese Mexican Blend, corn tortillas, poblano peppers, and chicken thighs to highlight and promote the Food Network Chopped at Home Challenge. Chopped is one of my favorite shows. I like to think of myself as a Chopped extraordinaire since one of my “mom requirements” is to create tasty food using random ingredients in my pantry, fridge, or freezer.

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Anyway, as I pondered the recipes I could make with the 4 required ingredients I kept getting stuck on the obvious choices. Should I make enchiladas, tacos, tortilla casserole of sort, etc? But none of those felt right to me. I wanted to be a little more creative.

Then I thought Spicy Chicken Enchilada Macaroni and Cheese. Did you feel overly excited when you saw this title? It’s okay, I won’t judge. Actually, I’m right there with you. I was super excited to put this recipe together. I mean c’mon who wouldn’t be excited for this? All the spicy scrumptious flavors of chicken enchiladas mixed into an ooey gooey macaroni and cheese. Oh mama!

Before you start yelling at me for ruining your diet let me say I did my best to keep this on the hearty yet nutritious side. As with all my macaroni and cheese recipes I used whole grain pasta, substituted half the milk for chicken broth, and kept the cheese under control. Of course pasta dishes are pasta dishes but if you need some carb love then this recipe is for you. Enjoy it with a fresh salad and you got yourself a well-rounded delicious wholesome dinner. You’re welcome.

Ok let’s talk about the recipe.

I started by browning the chicken thighs in a heavy bottom 6-quart pot.

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After the chicken thighs were cooked I sprinkled a packet of taco seasoning over the chicken and let it cook for a few more minutes. To keep the spices from sticking and burning on the bottom I added a splash or so of chicken stock.

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I removed the chicken from the pan and set it aside. Using the same pot I poured in 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of 1% milk. Then I whisked in 2 tablespoons of white-whole wheat flour. I scraped up any bits that were stuck to the bottom cause we all know there’s lots of flavor in those bits.

I brought this to a boil and then let it simmer for about 5-7 minutes. I continued to whisk so the milk or flour didn’t stick to the bottom and burn. Then I whisked in a 10-ounce can of enchilada sauce.

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Next is my favorite part- THE CHEESE. I use Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican shredded cheese all the time. It’s a staple in my house. It has great flavor and melts beautifully. I never used it as the main cheese in macaroni and cheese so I was excited for it to make it’s star debut with this recipe. Just look at that cheese.

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And here it is all melted and ready to fulfill it’s mac n cheese duties. I should also point out that I spiced it up with onion powder, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper. It’s a must to give it a taste before pouring onto the pasta to check for salt. I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt but depending on your taste you might need more.

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Before I cooked the chicken I first prepared the pasta. I like to use the least amount of dishes as possible. For macaroni and cheese I only cook pasta in boiling water for 5 minutes. That’s it. Yes the pasta will still be a little hard but trust me it’s the only way to get perfect pasta in your macaroni and cheese. No mushy pasta for this mama.

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Then I sprinkled the chopped poblano pepper over the pasta. Truth be told, my original plan was to sautéed the peppers with the chicken but…I forgot. I like to think of this as my “real life” Chopped slip up. Regardless, the peppers cooked great right in with the macaroni and cheese.  No worries!

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Then I chopped up the chicken and threw it over top.

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And now the cheesy enchilada sauce. Oh boy!

I just gave it a couple stirs to makes sure all the ingredients were distributed evenly and all the pasta was coated.

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The last ingredient to make it’s way to the recipe were the corn tortillas. I decided to use them in place of bread crumbs. All I did was cut 5 tortillas into small pieces and mix with some melted butter.

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Then I sprinkled the tortilla pieces over the top and baked for 55 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

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Within 25 – 30 minutes there was a magical aroma coming from my kitchen. And by the time it was done my entire house smelled like a 5-star Mexican restaurant. Delicious!

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This Spicy Chicken Enchilada Macaroni and Cheese is beyond scrumptious. The pasta is coated with a tasty cheesy enchilada sauce, the chicken is tender and delicious, the poblano pepper gives it a little kick, and the crunch of the corn tortillas sends it right over the edge. This is everything you dream about with comfort food but better because it’s made with wholesome ingredients you can feel good about.

Spicy Chicken Enchilada Macaroni and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 lb wholegrain pasta shells, cooked very al dente
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 (1.13 ounce) packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
  • 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages Sargento 4 cheese Mexican Blend shredded cheese
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 5 small corn tortillas, cut into small squares
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, heat up the olive oil, and brown the chicken on both sides until it is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. This takes about 4 minutes on each side.
  3. Sprinkle taco seasoning over the chicken and continue to cook for a couple minutes. Pour in a little chicken broth to keep the seasoning from sticking to the bottom.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.Chop the chicken once it is cooled.
  5. Using the same pot pour in the milk and chicken broth. Whisk in the flour and scrape up any bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 7-10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the enchilada sauce, spices, and cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and sauce is warm.
  7. Place the pasta, chopped chicken, and poblano pepper in a 9 x 13 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.
  8. Pour the enchilada cheese sauce over top. Mix all the ingredients until pasta is coated and ingredients are evenly distributed.
  9. Mix together the corn tortilla pieces and melted butter then sprinkle over top of the casserole.
  10. Bake for 55 minutes. Let it cool for about 5 minutes and then serve.
Notes
sugars: 4 grams


Make-ahead instructions
This recipe can be made completely ahead of time, portioned out, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and freezer up to 3 months. Heat up on the stove or in the microwave. You might need to add a little milk or broth if it becomes dry after reheating.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 heaping cup Calories: 431 Fat: 20 Saturated fat: 8 Carbohydrates: 38 Fiber: 6 Protein: 26

Thank you again to Sargento® for sponsoring today’s post. Make sure to check out the Food Network Chopped at Home Challenge and enter your tasty creations for a chance to win $5,000 and a trip to New York City to compete in a televised Chopped cooking challenge for a $10,000 grand prize.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sargento. The opinions and text are all mine.

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